Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

    In the ninth installment of her popular Maisie Dobbs series Jacqueline Winspear brings us one of her most affecting and intriguing stories to date.  We meet 16-year-old Maudie Pettit, very pregnant and soon to give birth.  “Maudie had been born in the workhouse, and she was determined that not only would she not be going back there, but her baby wouldn’t be born in the workhouse either.”  She worked nights at Starlings Brewery located in Lambeth, London, cleaning the horse’s stalls.  It is there in 1887  that her son, Eddie, is born.

    Some years later the indefatigable Maisie Dobbs comes to her office to find a delegation from her past.  Waiting for her, scrubbed and in their best, is a group of costermongers, men who sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts.  She remembers them from her childhood as they worked the streets of London as did her father.  She also remembers Eddie Pettit, a slow but kind man who had a way with horses, almost a preternatural way of calming them.  Now, Eddie is dead, killed according to his friends and they want Maisie’s help.

    Of course, she cannot refuse, so begins an investigation that leads her into an unsavory place of secret intelligence and propaganda, plus a confrontation with an apparently cruel, powerful press baron.

    With her unrivaled mix of mystery and history Jacqueline Winspear takes us to a bygone London as vivid on the page as it was “between the wars.”


    - Gail Cooke

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